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Old 01-27-2008, 11:22 AM   #1
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Accupuncture as a treatment option....

I'm curious if anyone here on this forum has tried accupuncture to treat their back pain/sciatica symptoms? And if so, has it helped? In the last week or so, I've explained my back situation (grade 2 spondy, DDD, severe bilateral foraminal stenosis) to several different acquaintances that I know...and ALL of them suggested giving accupuncture a try. I know it's not covered by insurance and can be expensive, but I'm willing to give it a try if it means being able to avoid injections, meds, or surgery. I now have 4 different referrals/recommendations on local accupuncturists. Having never been to one before, I'm not even sure what to look for in a "good" accupuncturist. Is there some kind of "protocol" that is used to rate/grade an accupuncturist? Is there any kind of special certification that I should look for, when it comes to choosing one? Thanks for any help!

Linda

Last edited by nscrbug; 01-27-2008 at 11:24 AM.

 
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Old 01-27-2008, 02:05 PM   #2
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Re: Accupuncture as a treatment option....

The worst thing about having back problems is that everyone knows someone who has a back problem and they want to tell you all about it, how the person got relief, etc. Of course these well-meaning friends have no idea that some people have a very simple problem and others' problems are very complicated.

I don't mean to sound pessimistic, but it is my layman's opinion that your back problems are too severe to be helped much by accupuncture. It will give you short-term relief from the pain but it will not be able to do more than that.

I have a grade I spondy, with stenosis and have been trying to avoid a fusion for the last 3 years. I tried almost every treatment, alternative and otherwise. I have used accupuncture for other issues and definitely feel there is a place for it in our healthcare. But I think you will find a small amount of relief from your pain, but it will in no way take care of all of it and it will not last more than a short time.

I think the best way to find a good accupuncturist is by word of mouth. Ask around among your friends, maybe a health club. When you have names, look at their ads on the internet or in the phone book. They should be licensed by the state in which you live. I think licensing varies from state to state, but in general, there are no federal standards and you have no guarantee how well trained the one you pick will be.

The most important advice I would have is to watch out for how they bill. Some accupuncturists will insist that you sign up for a series of treatments. They may have you come for one session, but then once you're there they will insist that you must come back ten times...or something like that.

The other thing to bear in mind is that accupuncture works very slowly and usually does require a whole string of treatments. The problem I had with it was that I never knew if I had given up before the length of time it might have taken to complete the treatment. It left me wondering if I'd just had a few more treatments would it have fixed the problem?

I'm guessing with your diagnosis there must be very little room for the sciatic nerves to pass through and that as a result, you have radiculapathy in your hip, leg or foot. You have a biomechanical problem and I don't believe there is any way that accupuncture would help you long term. It could be good for a muscle sprain or tear, but I can't imagine that it would help for something a bit more complex.

 
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Old 01-27-2008, 02:16 PM   #3
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Re: Accupuncture as a treatment option....

hi
i use accupuncture for my back issues (DDD) from time to time, and for the most part, it does really help me. For me, i find it very relaxing. I had never gone before a few years ago, but i was in so much pain, i was willing to try anything. i didnt believe it would work... but something about it helped and it helped me with the pain. I think in the end, it helps relax my muscles which are contributing to my back pain.
It hasnt fixed me and i still have issues... but when im in a bad spot with my back, I'll go to accupuncture for a month or two (once a week) and it will help break my pain cycle. I agree that word of mouth is the way to go. Im about to try someone new in NYC... located in chinatown, who takes my insurance and is an MD, and i think i only have to pay a co-pay... if this turns out to be true, it would be amazing, cause usually I have to pay like $80 or $90 a session. So expensive, but again, it has helped me get through some bad times with my back. It has not helped fix me long term though.

good luck!!

 
Old 01-27-2008, 07:17 PM   #4
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Re: Accupuncture as a treatment option....

A further acupuncture question: does acupuncture help with numbness? I have residual numbness from my fusion; the pain is gone, but the numbness along the nerve - especially in the outer 3 toes of my right foot - is worse than before. Not that I'm complaining! But I wonder if anyone has had any luck with that.

Thanks!

-David

 
Old 01-28-2008, 09:26 AM   #5
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Re: Accupuncture as a treatment option....

Hi David,

I think accupuncture has a better chance of helping with numbness. I had peripheral neuropathy in my toes prior to my back problems. I was treated for it but it didn't do much good. But I recall my needler telling me it was one of the things that accupuncture usually could help. I haven't tried anything since my surgery.

David, did you get the feeling that your surgeon expected you to feel good with basically no pain at 3 weeks? I went in on Thursday for my first post-op appointment and my doc seemed disappointed when I was telling him about some new pains.

I thought I was really feeling great and that I didn't need any of the pain killers...so I didn't take them yesterday. When I awakened today I was in pain -- not terrible pain, but I definitely hurt...so I guess I'm not yet ready to give them all up. My surgery was 3 weeks ago today.

Hope you're progressing well.

xx MM

 
Old 01-28-2008, 05:24 PM   #6
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Re: Accupuncture as a treatment option....

[QUOTE=marlosmom;3414252]
David, did you get the feeling that your surgeon expected you to feel good with basically no pain at 3 weeks? I went in on Thursday for my first post-op appointment and my doc seemed disappointed when I was telling him about some new pains.
xx MM[/QUOTE]

I would answer that with an emphatic "NO." Maybe I'm just lucky (it seems that way based on all of the horror stories I hear on the board), but neither my surgeon or my PA or my GP has given me any grief about my meds!

Maybe I'm a rare case. I've decreased my meds, and at this stage in the game (3 mos.) we are trying to decrease my pain medication. Right now I'm down to two doses a day of vicodin (2x5/500). My GP was concerned about my liver (cuz of the tylenol in the Vicodin pills) but the liver function test came back fine.

I start PT next week and hopefully it won't make me want more pain meds. But we'll see.

I will talk to my acupuncture guy to see what he thinks.

David

Last edited by camperboy; 01-28-2008 at 05:25 PM.

 
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